NPD: Outdoor and sports toys surge in March

Hot Easter holiday sales result in a 9 per cent growth for the toy industry.
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The movement of the Easter holidays from March to April had an impact on monthly sales, which were up an impressive 24 per cent. This aided the year to date April toy market value to growth of nine per cent and volume to growth of two per cent compared to 2010.

Average selling price rose again versus 2010, as the higher priced items remain popular. Seven super categories increased in April, with the fastest growth being seen in 

the outdoor and sports toys and plush categories.

The warm dry days in April, coinciding with the long weekends, were a boost for the outdoor and sports category, which grew by 45 per cent for the month. 

Areas which showed particularly strong growth within this category included pools and water guns, as the value of both of the sectors more than doubled compared to April 2010 sales.

Playground equipment and sports activities also saw strong year on year growth. Little Tikes and Smart Trike were the number one and number two properties, respectively, in this sector, while Nerf and Super Soaker from Hasbro had a strong month and ended up the third and fourth largest properties.

Plush growth, up 45 per cent, was driven by Furreal and Animagic, while ZhuZhu Pets remained the number one plush property as the trend for fake pet properties remained strong for girls. However, Hello Kitty sales more than doubled from April 2010 and it is now the number one property in traditional plush. Other fast growing plush properties included Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin.

"The first four months of the year are traditionally a quieter period for the toy industry and only account for a total of 20 per cent of annual sales," says Jez Fraser-Hook, director of NPD Group’s toy business in the UK. "However, with growth in seven super categories and a variety of new items on the market making significant headway, overall it has been a positive start to the year."

He continues: "With the summer blockbusters such as Cars 2 and Transformers still to be released, there is much to look forward to in 2011 for the toy industry."

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Retail sales surge in March

According to the British Retail Consortium, UK sales fell 1.2 per cent on a like for like basis from March 2008 with some unseasonably warm weather this March benefiting clothing, footwear and outdoor leisure sales.

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